SLMC alleges media playing politics, won’t discuss agreement with UPFA

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UPFA constituent, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) yesterday alleged that a section of the media was working overtime to undermine its relationship with the SLFP-led ruling UPFA. The SLMC said that the media was pursuing a political agenda at the behest of interested parties at the expense of ongoing national reconciliation efforts.

SLMC General Secretary Hassen Ali, MP, and National List MP General Treasurer M.S.M. Aslam were responding to media queries at Sunday’s briefing at the SLMC headquarters, ‘Darussalam’ to explain the circumstances under which the party decided to extend its support to the UPFA at the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC).

The SLMC secured seven seats, whereas the UPFA won 14, including two National List slots, TNA 11, UNP 4 and the another UPFA constituent National Freedom Front (NFF) 1 at the Sept 8 polls.

Ali and Aslam said that in line with the SLMC agreement with the UPFA, the leadership of a five-year term of the EPC would be shared between the UPFA and the SLMC.

The SLFP nominee, Najeeb A. Majeed would hold office as the CM for two and half years paving the way for the SLMC to fill the chief ministerial post. They declined to discuss the agreement as it could have a detrimental impact on political relations among constituent members of the UPFA.

The media couldn’t be allowed to manipulate the issue to political advantage of those opposed to the SLMC joining hands with the UPFA in the Eastern Province. They alleged that the media could cause a catastrophic situation by misrepresenting facts as regards the SLMC agreement with the government.

The SLMC recalled the difficulties experienced by the party in the run-up to the EPC polls. The SLMC was targeted by the UPFA, UNP as well as the TNA and a section of the UPFA went to extent of physically attacking members of the SLMC. In spite of that the party was ready to work with the government and other political parties for the well being of the people.

Asked by the Island whether the SLMC could even discuss a political arrangement in the East with the TNA, which endorsed the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people, Aslam said that even if the SLMC didn’t accept the TNA, it secured 11 seats at the EPC. Hence it won the confidence of a large section of the people. "Whether we like it or not the TNA represents the Tamil community. We’ll continue to maintain political links with the party."

Responding to another query, the SLMC said that they still support Senior Minister Dew Gunasekera’s call for the setting up of an all-party administration in the East. "In fact, we have insisted on the appointment of a Tamil minister in the PC to ensure equality."

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